A father’s Remorseful Reflections by the Bedside of his Little Son


Listen Son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little, paw, crumpled under your cheek and the red curls slickly wet on your dump forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

These are the things I was thinking son: I had been crossed to you; I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things – you gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called: “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I sped you, down on your knees playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boy friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later when I was reading in the library, how you come in, timidly with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing , but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed and your arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, patterning up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hand and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has been habit doing to me! The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding. This was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. This little heart of your, was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown y your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good-night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy. I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy- – a little boy”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet, as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much!

 

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